Top British military man to attend Battle of Gate Pa commemorations

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A gun from the Battle of Gate Pa 150 years ago on display at the ANZ Bank in Greerton.
A gun from the Battle of Gate Pa 150 years ago on display at the ANZ Bank in Greerton.

Britain's assistant chief of the general staff Major General David Cullen will be in Tauranga to take part in the 150th commemoration of the Battle of Gate Pa next week.

He will arrive in New Zealand tomorrow for high level Army-to-Army talks and a number of other military-related engagements.

Major General Cullen will also take part commemorations on Monday and Tuesday.

The commemoration spans several days and will involve a number of iwi dignitaries as well as the VC  holder Corporal Willy Apiata.

The Battle of Gate Pa carries special significance for the British visitors. Major General Cullen was commissioned into the Royal Artillery, which has direct links to the fatal Gate Pa battle.

His military assistant is from the Rifles, which has similar links, and the Royal Navy will be represented by Lieutenant Oliver Burness-Smith, who is currently on exchange with the Royal New Zealand Navy. 

Wellington-based UK Defence Adviser Lieutenant Colonel Tim Woodman said the Major General would attend the ANZAC Dawn Service at the Cenotaph on April 25 and also attend the Civic Service in Lower Hutt where he will give an address and lay a wreath. 

"On Saturday he will visit the 1RGR Gurkha contingent under training in the field near Tekapo and on Monday sit down with his New Zealand counter-parts to discuss joint operational matters covering the next 12 months."

Lieutenant Colonel Woodman said Britain and New Zealand military enjoyed a close and warm relationship based on shared operational doctrines and a shared sense of history.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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